Most of the literature is not very useful in terms of being able to distinguish the taxa when you try to deal with all the similarly colored taxa over the whole world. For the last 18 years I have been trying to find characters that will successfully segregate known species of the Vaginatae and allow new taxa to be described by a clear methodology that avoids confusion (if that is not too much to ask). Many, many characters are required. Looking for a simple solution such as spore size and shape (not enough), ecology or preferred symbionts (there aren’t enough different symbionts!), cap color (not enough), etc. just leads to more dead ends. I believe that one set of characters that has been ignored too long is the set of characters associate with microscopic anatomy of the lamellae. It has worked remarkably well for me, although I have made plenty of mistakes during the learning process.
When I work on an unfamiliar species of sect. Vaginatae, I describe the basidia (of course), but also I give a detailed account of the subhymenium, the central stratum of the lamellae, and the tissue which joins these two regions (mediostratum or subhymenial base). There is a great deal of variation in sect. Vaginatae in these tissues. In recent years, I have included the tissue along the edges of the lamellae as well. I also describe in detail the cap context, the stipe context, partial veil’s internal anatomy (not the detritus on the upper surface which comprises fragments of the gill edge tissue), the universal veil on the pileus as well as on the stipe (it is often layered, and each layer must be dealt with separately), the pileipellis (also often layered), etc. All of these play a role in defining taxa new or old. That is why all species must be revised again with modern methodology to understand the organisms and their morphological relationships.
The study of Amanita is so fascinating and can succeed so well in determining taxonomy and systematics of the genus because of the incredible richness of the set of characters that are available (don’t forget chemical characters as well as morphological ones). This is why so much progress could be made by morphological means alone.
And…this is why it is still profitable to study the organisms themselves…and not just (or mostly) the genes.
I don’t think that there is a thorough study of A. battarrae. The separation of A. battarrae from A. umbrinolutea is argued in Fungi non Delineati (51-52) . I am not endorsing the work as a whole; however, the case of the separation of the two taxa has to go back to a description and an illustration of Battarra (1755). The authors take the trouble of providing the necessary historical tour.
On the other hand, I am not at all sure that the authors have applied the name A. battarrae correctly themselves. Indeed, They point out that the cap color was originally described as ash gray by Battarra, the material that they describe as battarrae is (according the authors’ description of fresh material) beige-gray to pale brownish gray to beige or pale grayish ocher to pale brownish tobaco, with a darker ring at the inner ends of the marginal striations. And at least one of their color illustrations labeled umbrinolutea appears to be identical in coloration to the illustrations they label battarrae. They designate Battarra’s illustration as the lectotype, but it is NOT a colored illustration. [ADDED LINE: The color of the cap of lectotype is (however) covered in the text associated with the image.]
When Boudier created the name battarrae_, the only macroscopic data he gave in addition to Battarra’s description is in direct contradiction to Battarra’s description of the cap color, which Boudier says is “un fauve un peu grisâtre”—-a slightly grayish tawny orange-red. We seem to be asked to believe that something is both ash gray and “grayish tawny orange-red.” This could be grounds for simply rejecting the name "_battarrae" altogether. How can you answer the question “What is the color of the cap of A. battarrae?” You must go to the protolog; and the protolog manifestly contradicts itself. [ADDED SENTENCE: However, because Neville and Poumarat designated Battarra’s image as the lectotype, I think that there is no conflict in stating that Battarra’s color information is to be preferred; and Boudier can be said to have erred or just “broadened the species concept in a way that we might now choose to reject.” ]
Could Boudier have been taking the color distribution pattern from Battarra and attaching to that the colors of “A. umbrinolutea” (which is often distinctly reddish brown in the darker parts)? If we say Boudier’s comment is meant to be an addition to the description of Battarra, then we could argue that battarrae is a poorly described species that has at least two distinct color variants; and one of these variants can be considered to be the taxon we call umbrinolutea. Then A. battarrae could be amended to be strictly defined only by the description of Battarra. At the moment, this seems to me to be a reasonable argument to make. I would be very intereseted in different approaches. If this is the case, than there is insufficient evidence to support the color interpretation of Neville et al. (2009) as correct. In whatever may remain of forests in the region in which Battarra collected, material should be sought that fits Battarra’s description. If nothing is found fitting Battarra’s description, the name should be declared a nomen dubium.
[Any errors in translation from Latin and French are mine.]
If anyone disagrees with the above in any way, please, do not be silent on this point.